When a 42-year-old man went into the emergency room after his seizure, it was his Fitbit Charge HR that saved his life. For those who are not familiar with the model, it has a built-in heart rate monitor that tracks your pulse via an LED sensor. Doctors were able to use the man's heart rate information to determine the best course of treatment.
According to Gizmodo, it was the first time a fitness tracker was used in this type of setting. The Fitbit information helped determine whether the high and erratic heartbeat the man suffered prior to his seizure was chronic or episodic. Doctors were able to tell that the seizure caused an atrial fibrillation — an abnormal heartbeat — and were able to perform a electrocardioversion to reset the heart's rhythm back to its regular pattern. Had it been a chronic condition, performing this method could have potentially caused a stroke or killed the man.
In a report that appears in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, a clinical team wrote:
During the patient's examination, it was noted that he was wearing a wrist activity tracker (Fitbit Charge HR, Fitbit, San Francisco, CA), which was synchronized with an application on the patient's smartphone, recording his pulse rate as part of a fitness program. The application was accessed on the patient's smartphone and revealed a baseline pulse rate between 70 and 80 beats/min, with an immediate persistent increase to a range of 140 to 160 bpm at the approximate time of the patient's seizure. The pulse rate remained elevated until administration of the diltiazem in the field.
If you're still on the fence about whether to get a Fitbit, this probably has you convinced you need one stat.